It’s a burden, being right all the time.
I know, I know- I hear you virtually saying “But Mayhem, how could being right all the time be anything but wonderful? You win all the arguments, you hit the stock market like it was Tyreek Hill’s baby momma,* and women fall over each other to be near the warming glow of your omniscience!”
Well, gentle reader, it’s not all wine and oral sex. People get jealous of your gift. They want to bring you down. Even Dr. Mrs. Mayhem. Despite being the most patient and loving of partners, I occasionally see her eyeing the never-used citrus zester as if to say “anything’s a deadly weapon if you want it hard enough.” Alas, I must soldier on.
The latest evidence of my Reverential Infallibility is the Detroit Lions. In the Season Preview, I donned my Johnny Carson Carnac Hat and predicted that the Lions would continue to be maddeningly erratic and end up 7-9. And lo! The Prophecy is well on its way to being fulfilled at 2-3.
What else can you call it when a team kicks off the season with a 48-17 bedshitting against the New York Goddamned Jets, convincingly beats The New England on a national telecast, but then loses to the Cowboys? Those things should not happen in a single season, let alone the first quarter thereof.
Perhaps the most embarrassing thing so far was the Jets picking up four interceptions because they knew the Lions’ offensive signals. Seriously, how humiliating is it for Hoodie Disciple Matt Patricia to get outworked in the SigInt department? And no, I don’t care if Todd Bowles tried to walk it back to “we did a lot of film study.” They weren’t in Matt Stafford’s head- they were in his helmet speaker. Almost as bad: they gave Jets fans hope that they had Picked The Correct Quarterback. Fortunately, reality has begun to assert itself, but you never want to give those fuckers an inch.
The Patriots win was kind of baller though, even if Brady was down to the Corpse of Gronk and the Grit Twins (Burkhead and Hogan) for receivers. Belichick losing in primetime is always to be savored.
The wild swings in Detroit’s play also provide a nice illustration of Why Statistics Are Bullshit. If you look at the stats for both the team and Stafford, it looks like they are a comfortably average team in most respects, with room to improve. They are in the middle of the pack in every major offensive category. Defensively, they’ve given up an awful lot of yards on the ground but have been reasonably stingy on passes, placing near the top on both yards allowed and sacks. Stafford is right in the middle of most categories. But if you look at the stats game-by-game, they vary wildly to the point where I actually had to double-check that I was looking at the same team. Stafford has a pretty good 10/5 touchdown-to-interception ratio. However, 4 of those interceptions came against the Jets. This would normally lead you to conclude that other than the One Bad Game, Stafford has been really good. But that would be a Lie. He had 183 yards with a 53% completion percentage…in their win against Green Bay on Sunday. Conversely, he hit 80% of his throws for 300 yards, two TDs and no interceptions…in the loss to Dallas. The Pats gave him a pedestrian-in-this-year’s-league 262 yards, 2 TDs and 1 INT in the team’s most convincing win of the year, and his best statistical game was a loss to the 49ers. It’s almost like Stafford’s performance has almost no relation to whether the Lions succeed or fail miserably.
The positives so far are Kenny “Doc” Golladay and Kerryon Johnson. The latter actually broke The Curse of Reggie Bush by gaining 101 rushing yards (in a single game!!!), thereby eliminating the last genuinely interesting thing about the Lions. He’s averaging over 5 yards per carry, and yet he has only that one 100 yard game and only one touchdown. For reasons that are somewhat opaque from the outside, Johnson has been splitting carries almost evenly with LeGarrette Blount, who is averaging 2.5 yards per carry. Indeed, Blount is averaging less on his catches than Johnson is on the ground. Why, it’s almost as if Jim Bob Cooter (snicker) truly has no clue what to do with a running game. Imagine that.
On defense, things have been…weird. Darius Slay has one of the team’s two (2) interceptions. They’ve been getting sacks (17, tied for third in the league), mostly from relative unknowns in their linebacking corps. In past years, this would be a sign of desperation (over-reliance on blitz packages to make up for inadequate pass rush from the defensive line). However, in Matt Patricia’s pseudo 3-4 defensive scheme it makes sense, since linebackers are expected to pick up pass rushing roles more often. But as the league learned after everyone caught 3-4 Fever in the mid-2000s, what you gain in pass rushing versatility is often at the expense of quality run defense. And so it has been with the Lions. They’ve given up bags of rushing yardage in their three loses, and frankly they should be almost as embarrassed by giving up almost 100 yards to Green Bay, given that Green Bay is functionally lacking a backfield. Ziggy Ansah has been rendered a nonentity by injury. A’Shawn Robinson and Da’Shawn Hand have been adequate along the defensive line, but they have not been a pairing worthy of their complementary names.
Seriously, they should both be destroying quarterbacks and selling “A’Shawn/Da’Shawn” lighting bolt tee shirts while the video board operator plays highlights to Thunderstruck. C’mon, the marketing writes itself.
Anyway, the dirty truth is this: I may not actually have been “right” on my predictions for the Lions. I mean, I was right (of course). But the reality is that if Mason Crosby hadn’t missed 13 points worth of kicks last weekend, the Lions would be comfortably 1-4. With the Bears sucking less and Minnesota out for blood after being decimated by the sheer pulsating power of the Buffalo Bills, the Lions are firmly in the basement of the NFC North, and their schedule has precisely two predictable wins left for them: the Dolphins and Arizona. I’m left looking at their schedule for the additional three wins to make The Prophecy come true, and I just don’t see them. By the time they play the Unstoppable Juggernaut that is the Buffalo Bills in Week 15, I expect their spirits to be broken. Obviously, injuries may change this calculus, and I fully expect the Unseen Forces of Destiny to back my original prediction. But how those five wins will come, I have no clue.
Although my numbers may or may not be accurate at the end of the season, I am fully confident that my overall read of the team was bang-on. In the Season Preview, I likened the Lions’ erratic stumbling between extremes to a drunk baby.
It really is hard to be right all the time.
* Seriously though- all domestic violence is wrong, but this shit just pisses me off on an entirely different level. I don’t give a crap that he was “only” 20 when he choked his pregnant girlfriend and punched her in the stomach. I don’t give two decaying rat carcasses about how he’s stayed out of (public) trouble or that become a born-again Jeebus Follower.** And I especially don’t give even the most microscopic of miniturds how fucking fast he is, which is all the vast majority of the KC fanbase seems to care about. I literally get nauseous when I read one of those statements from the league or a team about how Seriously They Take Domestic Violence, because if they had known how well he would eventually play, 30 teams would have drafted this shitstain in the second round. Remember how he initially blamed it on hanging out with the wrong group of friends? Fucking cockgoblin bitch. I haven’t been this angry in weeks.
**I don’t know if he’s done this, but I assume so since it’s step 3 of the Ray Lewis Image Rehabilitation Program, right after “hide the blood-soaked clothing.”